As the fight over the $40 billion ride-sharing service Uber is about to climax in New York City with a pending vote to cap temporarily Uber’s rapid expansion, Democracy Now! co-host Juan González discusses how the company is determined to fight any limits. Cab drivers in New York say Uber’s model of part-time drivers threatens full-time professional drivers and lowers wages for all drivers. González notes the company has faced major conflicts in 40 locations around the world, including in France, where cab drivers rioted and burned Uber cars, prompting the government to declare the company’s operation illegal.
AMY GOODMAN: Juan, you wrote your column today in the New York Daily News about Uber.
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JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes, about Uber, the huge, fast-growing ride-sharing service that is spreading around the world, and wherever it goes around the world, in city after city, it’s sparking huge protests and conflicts. In France, there were riots by cab drivers, by veteran cab drivers, against Uber, and the French government has declared it illegal. In California last month, the state of California declared that Uber ride-sharing drivers are actually employees of the company, not independent contractors as the company continues to claim. But there’s going to be a huge vote right here in the New York City Council this week over trying to put the brakes on the spread of Uber in New York City. Uber is growing at a phenomenal rate. It’s—
AMY GOODMAN: And why have the protests been so large?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, because basically what’s been happening is that Uber is essentially undermining the entire urban taxicab industry by creating a model of part-time drivers, and that is undermining the existing professional full-time drivers and driving wages down, so critics say all over the world. And here in New York City, it’s now bigger than the entire yellow cab industry of New York and is adding 500 drivers a week to its operation. So the City Council is basically going to vote on whether they should slow down the growth of Uber while they investigate the impact on traffic and congestion in New York City.
So the company has mounted a huge campaign. It’s hired David Plouffe, a former Obama adviser. It’s hired key advisers to former Mayor Bloomberg. It’s waging a multimillion-dollar ad campaign against the mayor and the City Council. And so, it’s basically doing everything it can to get the council not to vote to slow down its growth. But the taxi industries everywhere are regulated, and government has some ability or right to try to figure out what’s in the public interest. So we’ll see what happens, because this is a fight being waged around the world.
AMY GOODMAN: So, we’ll continue to cover that story.